Density Betrays Us


Andrew Woolbright, Angela Dufresne, Caitlin Cherry, Cajsa von Zeipel, Carl D’Alvia, Carol Rama, Chris Coy, Claudia Bitran, Didier William, Du Jingze, Duane Slick, Emma Stern, Geoff Chadsey, Joiri Minaya, Katherina Olschbaur, Mala Iqbal, Michael Jones McKean, Michael Robinson, Nicole Miller, Peggy Ahwesh, Sun Yitian, Terrance James Jr., William E. Jones and Yasue Maetake

June 29th – August 14th, 2021

OPENING: Tuesday, June 29th from 6-8pm

86 Walker Street, New York, NY 10013

The Hole is proud to present “Density Betrays Us” a guest-curated exhibition by Andrew Woolbright, Angela Dufresne and Melissa Ragona. Developing out of a 2020 article by Andrew in Whitehot Magazine, “Phantom Bodies”, this theme and many of the artists exhibited began with thinking about the body in the digital age.  Seeing artworks that treat the skin like a computer “skin” questions our ideas about corporeality and weight or even gravitas. In the words of the curators:

The body has entered a realm of endless modification and anonymity—producing endless persona, worlds of saved games and respawn points. The works featured in Density Betrays Us conflate and confound figure and ground, individual and mass, weight and weightlessness, and visual and non-visual elements and events. Less interested in skin as an organ, than as an image-average, this exhibition excavates how surface—as force, as affect— is activated across several contemporary projects. To borrow from Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza’s idea of “spiritual automata” was a convincing way to present “our power of acting or force of existing.” The latter exists, he argues, in a continuous line of variation. The complex surfaces and body-oriented works of this exhibition embrace such dissimilitude, cutting across the incongruities of mediated translations.

As initially articulated in Woolbright’s “Phantom Body: Weightless bodies, Avatars, and the End of Skin” the body, specifically its canonical depiction as flesh, is being re-imagined in post-humanist terms.* Many contemporary artists represented here have left the physical body behind and exchanged it for variable virtual models. Emma Stern downloads open-source 3D models of young girls, overtly sexualized by their anonymous designers. Stern takes these models and attempts to give them personhood, naming them and introducing them into invented environments. At times they are chimeric —as in the work of Carl D’Alvia and Chris Coy—integrating animals and objects into their own 3D skin in a way that is in line with Donna Haraway’s concept of a Cyborgian hybrid being. Similarly, there is Didier William, who is using paint to reinvestigate what seems like the glistening, weightless environmental landscapes of early World of Warcraft games. Their low-res limitations are transformed by the material sensations created from dripping paint over carved wood panels- treated with such gravitas, detail, and commitment that we are forced to consider them as organic and social realities rather than as ephemeral effects. 

Density Betrays Us also presents artists who explore the figure dematerializing in or folding into the landscape (and vice versa), as in the work of Joiri Minaya, Peggy Ahwesh, Sun Yitian, William E. Jones and Michael Robinson.  Starting back as early as William Blake, who wanted his figures to appear hollow to advance his concepts of ecology or moving forward to Jacob Lawrence who tracked black bodies in transit—joined through kinetic color, moving, seemingly without conventional density—through a racist, troubled landscape, the artists presented here create spaces where figure and ground are sometimes grafted to each other, at other times, interdependent, but almost always— in constant motion. The background and foreground of Angela Dufresne’s work shimmer, undulate, forming phenomenological meshes. Figuration is developed by the negative space it inhabits. The figures and landscapes are at times indecipherable, ecological; creating an electric force that charges the surfaces of her paintings. Or Nicole Miller’s video work which highlights the physical effects of social and political realities, while operating as portals for escape, invocation and revelry.  Caitlin Cherry similarly shows a body affected by its environment, and her work floats between the sensual body and the sonic as she flexes her expert handling of color, camouflage, as well as visual and social noise. 

Finally, we must remember that the term “digital” was already used in the 15th century. It referred to calculations or “cuts” that could be done using ten fingers, a knowledge understood at the edges of one’s body. In step with earlier innovations, we have included a master of corporeal intensities, the great Italian artist Carol Rama (1918-2015). Her work builds on, but moves beyond realistic representations of the body, or to borrow from Paul Preciado, she “irreverently incorporates a visceral, bodily sensibility into the history of modern painting, while injecting industrial and profane implications into its scope.” As avatars, chimeras, as kinetic force fields, the works in this exhibition challenge conventional notions of figurative art, tied as it is to positivist ideas about presence, subjectivity, and materiality. The work of these artists rejects canonical, patriarchal histories of portraiture, reaching beyond representations of a neo-liberal subject into worlds where bodies become open systems of affect, gateways to new technological forms of being-in-the-world.

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KOL-1Katherina OlschbaurThe Ecstasy of St. Katherine, 2021Oil on canvas, 79 x 79 inches, 200 x 200 cm


CBI-1Claudia BitranBe Drunk, 2020. 31 painting animations in loop on SD card + TV monitor + Media Player, TV dimensions: 13.5 x 15 x 14.5 inches, 34 x 38 x 37 cm, Base: 42 x 18 x 18 inches, 107 x 46 x 46 cm, 1 minute 40 seconds.


GCHAD 1 2Geoff ChadseyGoat Twister 1 and 2, 2021. Watercolour pencil, crayon, pastel and fixative on mylar, Each: 66 x 42 inches, 168 x 107 cm.


CCOY-1Chris CoyWilma’s Rainbow 1, 2016. Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches, 76 x 61 cm.


YM 1Yasue MaetakeLineal Fetishism I, 2020. Assorted animal bones and seashells, steel, brass, copper, cotton pulp, synthetic clay, 30 x 44 x 24 inches, 76 x 112 x 61 cm.

DSLICK-1Duane SlickMetaphysical Effect, 2018. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


DSLICK-2Duane SlickThe Clarifying Question, 2018. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


DSLICK-3Duane SlickTwilight Doppelgänger, 2018. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


DSLICK-4Duane Slick, Quiet Encounter, 2019. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


DSLICK-5Duane SlickCoyote and the Tall Grass, 2019. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


DSLICK-6Duane SlickA Reason For Skepticism, 2019. Acrylic on panel, 14 x 11 inches, 36 x 28 cm.


AWoolAndrew WoolbrightDigital Medieval Tenderness (Untergang simping for e-bois and e-girls), 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 54 x 72 inches, 137 x 183 cm.


CRAMA-1Carol RamaUntitled (Tongues 18), 1996. Magic marker on paper, framed, 12.5 x 41.5 inches, 32 x 105 cm.


DW-1Didier WilliamKoupe tet, Boule Kay, 2021. Acrylic, oil, ink, wood carving on canvas, 70 x 52 inches, 178 x 132 cm.


ADUF-1Angela DufresneNo Longer the Hazardous Forest, 2018. Oil on canvas, 83 x 132 inches, 211 x 335 cm.


CC 14Caitlin CherryRainroad, 2021. Oil on canvas, 57.5 x 58 inches, 146 x 147 cm.


YSUN 1Yitian SunKen, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, Left: 59 x 59 inches, 150 x 150 cm, Right: 18 x 15 inches, 46 x 38 cm.


MJM-1Michael Jones McKean15 Families, 2015. Wood, paint, urethane, lighting, brass, stainless steel, fossils, meteorites, shells, elements, bristlecone pine, 74 in x 133 x 8 inches, 188 x 338 x 20 cm.


EStern-1Emma SternHeather, 2020. Oil on canvas, 40 x 34 inches, 102 x 86 cm.


YMYasue MaetakeLineal Fetishism II, 2020. Assorted animal bones, seashells, bronze, steel, brass, found stone, polyester resin, synthetic clay, 22 x 29 x 14 inches, 56 x 74 x 36 cm.


JoM-1Joiri MinayaEmergence I, 2021. Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle paper, 60 x 40 inches, 152 x 102 cm.


CDA-1Carl D’AlviaForunato, 2016. Marble, 19 x 25 x 14 inches, 48 x 64 x 36 cm.


PA 1 onePeggy AhweshRip Van Winkle, 2020. 4k 360-degree video, color, sound, 3 minutes and 4 seconds.


PA 2 twoPeggy AhweshTempest, 2020. 4k 360-degree video, color, sound, 3 minutes and 30 seconds.


JDU-1Jingze DuBrad, 2021. Oil on canvas, 23.5 x 20 inches, 60 x 50 cm.


CVZ 1 FrontCasja Von ZeipelFriends of Grapefruit, 2020. Pigmented silicon, Aqua resin, fishing flies, plastic plants, aquarium plants, curly shoelace, canoe paddle, muscle hook, “New York” sun protection hat, neon green camelbak, car window phone holder, arrow thing, “Pumpkins for Peace” pin, “Hot girl vs tiger” lenticular, key board, book, paint bucket tool belt, camouflage fabrics, pixel printed fabrics, camouflage dog vest, Minnewaska State Park Trail band, iPhone case, “Do you hate Grapefruit or just feel natural about them? Need quick answer” text message, synthetic hair, glass eyes, fish flies lashes, earrings, neon mesh thongs, flugsmällare, yellow pool floatie, barb wire sock, sesame seeds, “February” sign, wood incense, Slate Ultra soft blanket, pillow stuffing, iwatch case, mini speaker, MDF, fiberglass, and foam spray, 71 x 43 x 43 inches, 180 x 109 x 109 cm.


MIMala IqbalLeftover Part Witch, 2021. Oil on canvas, 46 x 45 inches, 117 x 114 cm.


WJ 1William E. JonesWhat Have You Been Doing, 2020. High-definition video, 3 minutes, 46 seconds.


YM 2Yasue MaetakePedigree of Industrial Bouquets, 2016. Polyurethane resin, steel, brass, copper, paper, oil paint, 32 x 27 x 38 inches, 81 x 69 x 97 cm


NicM 1Nicole MillerThe Borrowers, 2014. Digital video: 16 minutes and 52 seconds.


TJA 1Terrance JamesPhlegm, 2020. PVA Glue, expanded polystrene (EPS) head, PVS tubing, steel, sumi ink, dye, Head: 10 x 7 x 8 inches, 25 x 18 x 20 cm, Steel base: 24 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches, 61 x 9 cm.


TJA 2Terrance JamesPhotogenesis, 2019-2020. PVA Glue, Expanded Polystrene (EPS) Head, PU and PVS tubing, steel, Sumi ink, dye, acrylic, Head: 15 x 9 x 7 inches, 38 x 23 x 18 cm, Steel base: 24 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches, 61 x 9 x 9 cm.


MRob 1Michael RobinsonOnward Lossless Follows, 2017. Single channel video.